Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A taste of Africa

       This past week here at HDC (Harrisburg Discipleship Center) we had world awareness week. It is a week where the participants at HDC have the opportunity to experience a little of what life is like in other parts of the world. A few of us had just returned from backpacking on Sunday and then world awareness week began Monday which may have made the week slightly more difficult to tolerate, but either way it was a good learning experience. The week consisted of no electricity, no hot water beginning Wednesday since the man who needed to turn it off was sick until then, and then no running water beginning Thursday until Saturday. We also "experienced" the culture of different areas of the world throughout the week with dress, food, no snacks and "unclean" drinking water (it was really clean, but we had to boil it to make it hot and since most of the world's water isn't clean).
      The week began with us experience Southeast Asia for the day. For breakfast we had rice and milk and lunch was a delicious Indian meal that unfortunately didn't settle very well with Elias' stomach. For dinner we had rice and eggplant, which we have determined should not be an edible vegetable. That day the guys could wear pretty much whatever, but the ladies had to wear long skirts, long sleeves and keep our heads covered. We then visited a mosque later that night and observed the prayer time along with some friendly dialogue of those that attend the mosque.
       Tuesday we observed Chinese culture with a breakfast of spaghetti noodles, a little bit of bouillon and soy sauce, and half a hot dog. Lunch was a day of fasting for EMM and then dinner  then consisted of a cast system of beggers, cous-cous, rice and beans, hamburgers and then t-bone steak. Everyone had to pick a category and then eat the food of their category, we had date night so we ate very well in comparison to most. That day we could wear anything as long as we didn't look frumpy.
      Wednesday was Africa, so the day began with leftover rice and beans and eggplant. And as in most cultures, we ate with our hands on the floor. Lunch was a Kenyan meal of a dry, play-doughy type cornmeal and greens, with dinner being a traditional Gambian meal of fish and rice with some cabbage. We ate out of a community pot with our hands with men and women separated. I have to admit, I didn't enjoy it very much, but Elias liked it. That day men could wear whatever and women had to wear long skirts, long sleeves and heads wrapped tightly in observance of North Africa.
     Thursday was Europe day so we had an amazing breakfast of bread, jellies and nutella.  Then we had a snack of cheese, bread and our only coffee of the week. Lunch was a Spanish meal prepared by our participant, Irene, from Spain. Then dinner was rice and beans. This day was "dress to impress" since Europeans tend to dress very well.
     Friday was latin America, which meant we had rice and beans for all three meals. However, we had a treat at dinner with pineapple! That day ladies had to wear skirts and guys had to wear nice pants and a button down shirt.
    Saturday was cereal for breakfast! This was the day that we got electricity, running water and snacks back. We had an amazing Thai meal for lunch and then a Chinese meal for dinner. The week was officially over, but the hot water didn't come back until Monday.
    The week was challenging, but as I came up to my room in the dark I realized that for the next year when it gets dark it will be dark in our house as well. I also was humbled in realizing how blessed we truly are when it comes to the food we have and the clothes that I can wear. We read about other cultures and the oppression that women face is astounding. I felt as though I was getting a small taste of what it might be like in Africa, and while there will be things that are very different, there will be things that are just as they were this past week. We had this past week easy compared to many around the world, we are truly  blessed to live the way that we do.

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